This is a biographical essay of the Pennsylvania Military Reserve and is intended only to serve as a brief history of the Pennsylvania Military Reserve hereinafter referred to as the (PAMR). The PAMR is an organization, which is legally chartered as the Pennsylvania State Military Reserve, Incorporated. We are a federally recognized 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. This unit and organizational history of the PAMR is compiled for the purpose to establish one’s fundamental understanding of the proud history, observations, and traditions of our organization, the PAMR. Our history is inclusive of the long established legitimacy of the PAMR, which is by far, never to be construed in any way as what people might perceive this organization, or its members, to be “one of those renegade militias.” Furthermore, this biography addresses the valued role of the PAMR and is replete with the various lineage that the present day Pennsylvania Military Reserve, which is presently a non-regulated unit or recognized state defense force or (SDF), but purportedly one which is actively pursuing reinstatement, or what we will define as the legitimate reconstitution and, or, unit recognition by the Governor, the legislature, and the laws and statutes which govern the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the Commonwealth’s recognized and regulated SDF.

This essay then necessarily presents other relevant historical information too, especially as it relates to some of the other “recognized” state defense forces. This is intentional to supporting our position as to our organization’s legitimacy as well as through the legitimacy of the various other present-day state regulated militias; units also known as the other recognized SDF’s of the various states and commonwealths located throughout this nation.

These other SDF’s are units which share a similar history with us. They too were units which were once units very much like ours; unrecognized. Each of these units and organizations were comprised of the common citizen, just like we are; ordinary citizens who come together, to serve, just as we do; citizens that take it upon themselves to establish and to reconstitute their own historic state units; units comprised of these very same citizens; and units, which are the “organized and regulated” units of their respective state and whose sole purpose is to assist the state and the organized and regulated militia, or what you and I call the National Guard, for the protection of their states. These units too, like ours, trace their lineage and storied unit histories back to the very beginning of this nation’s earliest period of settlement and colonization. These storied SDF’s and other organizations, that like us, lobbied too, and yes, they did petition their respective state representatives and legislatures for the purpose of receiving official “state recognition and unit reconstitution.” Moreover, they’re efforts came to fruition-we are still attempting to realize ours!

This then, is the very same method in which we, the members of the PAMR, are proceeding. That’s right; all of these various state militias, which like us, trace their proud unit lineage far back to the earliest period and the establishment of the various colonies in North America up through, and up to, this present day; and yes, their histories, like our own, are inclusive of many different and proud units; each with documented histories and various other unit traditions; and each, similar to our own. Yes, we are all brothers; but brothers not in arms, for no one in the PAMR is ever authorized to carry arms or munitions etc, but are brothers more-so in a common cause and this cause is that which thus establishes the legitimacy to the PAMR’s inherent claim; our legitimate claim to our prospective role and service to the commonwealth and citizens of this state in the advent of natural and man-made disasters by being trained and prepared to assist in effective emergency response. Yes, we, the common citizens, who constitute and are the proud serving members of the PAMR; we who petition to be recognized as the SDF of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, both now, and into the future.


Militias have always been an entrenched part of the American way of life and they date back to the earliest periods of colonization and settlement of and in this nation. The original settlers formed semi-regulated militias for the “common defense” of their colonies. All able bodied men within these early settlements were required by law to actively participate in drill; in providing for the common defense of; and at times, to execute the laws and judgments of the early courts of the colonies by providing services such as guard mounts and soldiers to watch over, escort, and to jail criminals, etc.

Years later, when these same colonies banded together, uniting to form this new nation; vowing to repulse the English; pledging their lives and the lives of their families, their wealth, and their homes; steadfast in their resolve to throw off the yoke of British tyranny and oppression by calling upon their local militias; and organizing themselves into a “Continental Army” and engage the Crown in open rebellion over principles of freedom, taxation without representation, etc; and with a fervent desire to create a new nation; one which would be “conceived in liberty…;” And this insurmountable task was accomplished with members, some of which had fought as militia under the British during the French and Indian Wars of the 1760’s, and by many others who had no previous military experience, but chose to answer this new nation’s call to arms. Moreover, they enlisted or were appointed, much as we are today, and they formed a fledgling, untrained, and undisciplined army.

Even when this new, regular, Continental Army was formed under the command of Lieutenant General George Washington, and then mobilized, deployed, trained and then bloodied; the other truth is that the bulk of the American colonist’s protection and defense for their families, farms and fields, still were primarily defended against the British by small units of undisciplined local militia and other bands of unregulated men that had remained at home; and who had the audacity to engage in open conflict, their oppressors-the best disciplined, trained, supplied, and combat ready army in the world at this chaotic period time in history.

State Militias

Originally, most states and territories in the United States had their own armed forces, referred to as militias, under the direction of the state and territorial governors. During the American Civil War, 1861-1865, these state units and militias were brought into the service of the United States Government to augment the Federal (Union) regular army forces. In addition, the states of the Confederacy, or those states of the South that had succeeded from the Union, mobilized their own state militias that remained “loyal” to their cause. These units retained their State identification, such as the 54th Massachusetts, or the 100th Pennsylvania, etc. The border states such as Maryland, their loyalties being torn and divided at the beginning of the hostilities, so much so, that various units of the Fifth Regiment, Maryland Militia divided the state command and militia into sides loyal to both the Union-who still retained federal designation as the 5th Maryland USA, and to the units that succeeded and went south to fight for the Confederacy-and were reconstituted as the 5th Maryland CSA.

The National Guard

In 1903, Federal aid to the previously, loosely formed organization of state militias increased, and from that time foreword, these state militias were considered to be the National Guard, under the jurisdiction, direction, and control of the individual state governors during periods of peace and or local civil disobedience or natural disasters within the state; but at the same time remained subject to “Federalization and mobilization during periods of a “declared national state of emergency…” In essence, this means that the President can call up the National Guard in times of a “declared state of national emergency, etc,” as authorized by the Congress of the United States.

During World War I, 1914-1918, the National Guard was “federally” activated and mobilized in 1917 to assist, respond, and deploy at first in Mexico, to hunt down Poncho Villa, the famed Mexican revolutionary and bandit, and then was immediately redirected to augment the regular U.S. Army under the command of General John “Black Jack” Pershing after President Woodrow Wilson went to Congress and asked for a “National Declaration of War” against Germany. It was also during this period of time that other “state defense forces” were legislated into being and authorized by the various state legislatures under the direction and control of the state Governor, to assume the duties and responsibilities henceforth vacated by the deployment and absence of the “State National Guard” units which were now actively deployed overseas.

Such was the case with the Pennsylvania units when in 1917,the Governor signed an executive order bringing into existence the Pennsylvania Guard with designated subordinate commands located throughout the state with the expressed duty to protect the lives and property of the citizens and the state. Similar state defense forces were also created by the various states around this nation. The troops returned home from the war in Europe, and most of the states stood down and disbanded their “state defense forces” as the units of the National Guard could now reassume they’re various “state” duties.

The period of the 1930’s witnessed a time of extreme turbulence in Europe and the Far East the and in September of 1939, war was again raging on these continents. The United States had remained neutral but otherwise assisted its allies in Europe with equipment under the “Lend Lease” program. Here at home in the States, President Franklin Roosevelt re-instituted the national draft. Regular state National Guard units were “federalized and called up for training and various states like Pennsylvania again found it necessary to reactivate its state defense force, the Pennsylvania Guard. By the 30th of June 1941, thirty-seven states had reactivated their state defense forces.


Note: The following information is entirely derived from an article, which appeared on the following website: WWW.FreedomFoundation.US/State_defense_forces1 1 Pennsylvania, like other states, created its own state defense force around 1914 as most states did and like all of the states, disbanded the State Guard after the return of its National Guard troops after the World War . The Pennsylvania Reserve Defense Corps (PRDC) was reactivated in 1941. Upon state activation, the PRDC was organized into a brigade (BDE) size element similar in composition to that of an active U.S. Army brigade. The PRDC was organized into a Headquarters (HQ) and three regiments. The HQ element was located in Harrisburg. The 1st Regiment , 2nd and 3rd Regiment HQ’s were located as follows: 1st Regiment, Philadelphia, assigned to defend the eastern sector of the Commonwealth; 2nd Regiment, Wilkes-Bare, assigned to defend the central region; 3rd Regiment, Pittsburgh, assigned to defend western Pennsylvania. Each regiment of the PRDC had a headquarters, a service company, and a medical detachment. Each Regiment was subdivided into 3 battalions- each battalion consisting of 3 rifle companies, and each company consisting of 2 platoons. Each platoon was authorized 30 personnel. The Governor placed the PRDC under the control of the Adjutant General, Pennsylvania, and authorized the Commander, PRDC, and the military rank of Brigadier General (BG). The Commander, PRDC was authorized to appoint two colonels, assigned to the Brigade Headquarters, and further, authorized a colonel to command each of the three regiments. Each PRDC regiment consisted of the following:
5 Lieutenant Colonels (LTC)
17 Majors (MAJ)
49 Captains (CPT)
72 First Lieutenants (1LT)
62 Second Lieutenants (2LT)
There were no age limits for officer personnel. Enlisted members were given a “physical examination” modified to account for the age variables within the 21 to 50 year-old group. The governor was responsible for issuing uniforms, equipment and supplies…drills were held one night a week and a one-week annual training period were held.

The 1st Regiment, (Philadelphia) was responsible for guarding bridges near the cities and towns of Phillipsburg, Washington Park, Lambertsville, Yardley, Trenton, Norristown, Reading and Columbia.

The 2nd Regiment (minus E Company), was to guard bridges near the central Pennsylvania cities and towns of Sunbury, Northfield, Williamsport, Jersey Shore, Muncy, Berwick, Plymouth, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Falls Oil City, Tionesta, Franklin and Elmerton.

The 3rd Regiment was assigned the Western Pennsylvania cities and towns of Warren, Parker, East Brady, Freeport, New Kennsington, and in coordination with local authority concerning the bridges at Pittsburgh, Saltzburg, Blairsville, Ambridge, Sewickly, Elizabeth, Monongahela, Donora, Monnessen, Brownsville and Masontown.

The Brigade Headquarters mission was to provide 24-hour safety of State Airport at Marsh Run and 24-hour roving patrols of the bridges spanning the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg. E Company, 2nd Brigade, covered Clarks Ferry Bridge, the Juanita Crossing and was assigned to maintain 24-hour security of the (Pennsylvania) State Arsenal at Harrisburg.

1n 1943, the PRDC was redesignated as the Pennsylvania State Guard (PASG). The PASG Table of Organization (TO) was changed from a brigade sized element to a configuration on the scale of a U.S. Army division. The PASG TO expanded from three regiments to 5 authorized regiments-the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 10th and 16th. The PASG also was authorized: one cavalry squadron-the 1st : one Separate Mechanized Cavalry Troop- “C Troop 1st Cav); and one engineer battalion (BN)–(1st Eng. Bn.)

The PASG had a peak strength of 5,700 officers and men prior to its being disbanded after the war. In 1950, with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, the Pennsylvania National Guard being “Federalized” and deployed overseas, the PASG was reconstituted into 4 regiments as follows:

The 10th and 16th Regiments- Western Pennsylvania;
The 13th Regiment-North Eastern Pennsylvania;
4th Regiment-Central Region

Regimental commanders were chosen from combat veterans of World War II. The Adjutant General (TAG) PA, was appointed as the Commander, PASG. Most of the PASG’s missions were identical to those from World War II. The only difference was that the state guard operated as a division vice a brigade. The PASG TO included combat support and combat service and support subunits. Additionally, the State Guard was assigned to defend the populace from “gas attacks.” After the Korean War (1950-1953) was concluded and the units of the Pennsylvania National Guard returned home, the PASG was again–disbanded.
Note-end of article.

We have discussed that the storied mission of the Pennsylvania State Guard during World War II, and they’re role during the Korean conflict of 1950-1953 would be similar to that of the other state defense forces around the nation. Restated, the PASG’s mission was primarily to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the Commonwealth, etc. In addition, while active, the PASG was comprised of various types of military units inclusive of infantry, military police, medical, engineer, cavalry, etc. The infantry units were assigned to guard key installations such as armories, state office buildings, dams, bridges, roads, etc, while the medical units were to help with medical relief in mass casualty situations affecting the general populace.

The Role of the United States War Department
With the Various State Defense Forces during World War II.

“In September of 1940, Congress approved a bill to induct the National Guard. In response, The War Department announced its support of a measure, first introduced on the first day of July, nineteen-forty, to amend Section 61 of the 1916 Act-The National Defense Act of Congress passed this amendment, and President Roosevelt signed it into law on 21 October, 1940. The amendment authorized states to organize and maintain “such military forces other than the National Guard as may be provided by laws of such State…while any part of the National Guard of the State concerned is in active federal service.” The Secretary of War was authorized to prescribe regulations “for the discipline in training” and to make available “to any State upon requisition by the Governor thereof, such arms and equipment as…can be sparred by the War Department…” This law also stipulated that “State Defense Forces could not be “called,” ordered, or in any way drafted, as such, into the military service of the United States…” But simultaneously, the law stated that membership in an SDF (State Defense Force) would not exempt a person from “military service under any Federal law.” In other words, SDF units, as State troops, could not be “Federalized,” but soldiers could still be drafted as individuals. Most significantly, for the first time, SDF’s could be formed during peacetime (Cole P.11) “The authority to maintain State defense forces was terminated by Public Law Number 239, 80th Congress (6 July 1947)-(Cole P. 17). However, with the advent of the “combined arms-the Total Force concept, inclusive of the regular United States forces, the reserves and the National Guard,” various passed laws to “revitalize long dormant SDF’s,…As of October 1995, twenty-five States, plus Puerto rice, were maintaining SDF’s…(Cole P.32)

Deactivation of The Pennsylvania Guard

As previously stated, in 1947, the 80th Congress enacted Public Law No. 239. This law called for the dissolution of all active SDFs. Pennsylvania, in compliance with this Federal statute, stood its SDF down sometime after the law was enacted and has to this date, unlike many of the other states, for whatever reason, deemed it necessary to reactivate the Pennsylvania Guard.

The Formation of the Present Pennsylvania Military Reserve

“The Pennsylvania State Military Reserve (PASMR) was organized over 10 years ago under the leadership of Eric M. Harwood. PASMR aspires to being officially recognized by the State and to being a Chapter of the SGAUS. A state sanctioned Pennsylvania Reserve Militia performed many valuable services from 1914 to the early 1970s. PASMR already has a record of numerous community support activities.

Both events attract thousands of spectators as well as numerous local politicians, and PASMR’s Public Affairs section will have booths on-site for recruiting and general information purposes. Two other activities round our busy summer schedule. In August, certain PASMR personnel will participate for one week of field training with the New York Guard at Ft. Smith, NY. In September, PASMR will host a formal All-Services Military Ball at an elegant location in Valley Forge. In addition to fine food and camaraderie, guests will enjoy music from three orchestras. The Governor, local politicians, and Active, Reserve, and retired military from all branches will be invited. The same invitation is hereby cordially extended to all SGAUS members.

The Present Pennsylvania Military Reserve

We have previously stated that this present day organization… was started several years ago by, and under the direction and leadership of Eric M. Harwood. From that period in 1995 until today, the Pennsylvania Military Reserve (PAMR) is differentiated by two separate but joined entities. PASMR Inc., which is a federally sanctioned 501 (C) (3) “volunteer” organization, that raises funding for the separated entity-the PENNSYLVANIA MILITARY RESERVE (PAMR).
From its very beginning, this organization continues to grow and to develop and with the help of many. We are successfully making strides as we actively pursue the State Legislature, requesting official sanction as the “recognized” or “reconstituted” Pennsylvania Guard. The following constitute some of our most recent accomplishments to date:

1. Adaptation and augmentation of various regulations
2. Various “Standing Operating Procedures or SOP’s
3. A Basic Training Program
4. A Basic NCO Course
5. The Basic Leadership and Management Course for Officers, Warrant Officers and Senior NCO’s
6. The Basic Aerial Observers Course
7. The Advanced Aerial Observers Course
8. Other training will be available in Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Search and Rescue, and other FEMA and Red Cross certification courses that enable this organization to perform critical and other beneficial services to this state and to its citizens.

The PAMR is putting together a complete package that we can present to the State Legislature as well as other state municipalities and organizations etc. It is important that you realize that the PAMR is no “RENEGADE MILITIA” but a organization comprised of distinguished and capable volunteers, many of us having retired from the Uniformed Services of the United States, seeking to be recognized as the long dormant, Pennsylvania Guard-the “recognized” Pennsylvania State Defense Force.

The Mission of the Present Day Pennsylvania Military Reserve The mission of the PENNSYLVANIA MILITARY RESERVE (PAMR) when the Pennsylvania National Guard is “mobilized” would be as follows:
Provide Assistance to the National Guard:
Assisting units of the Pennsylvania National Guard with communications, mess operations, armory security, and to support other related tasks, whether natural or manmade disasters; and to render assistance to the Pennsylvania National Guard during civil disturbances and other state of emergencies; support routine missions and other operations of National Guard units during their training activities; staffing armories during the National Guard’s annual training periods and during other periods where the National Guard is mobilized during Federal or State active duty periods by providing mobilization assistance, etc., and other such assistance to the military member’s families during the absence of the National Guard.

Providing Assistance to State Agencies during the absence of the Pennsylvania National Guard: Supporting the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the other State Homeland Security Agencies and rendering assistance to other local jurisdictions and civil disaster services agencies during training and/or emergency situations in such functions as providing trained and certified community emergency response teams (CERT); search and rescue (SAR) teams; assisting and staffing local emergency operations and communications centers; evacuations; staffing emergency shelters and assisting with shelter management operations; providing first aid and CPR; assisting with hazardous materials incidents control; monitoring and survey of nuclear, biological, and chemical defense operations and assisting with, and the operation of, various types of decontamination centers, etc.

Assisting With The Internal Security of the State:
Protecting life and property, and providing physical security of key facilities, etc., throughout the state.

REFFERENCES: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes-Military Affairs Title 51
Article to the State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS)
History of the Maryland Defense Force by LTC M.T. Cole
Introduction by COL Lawrence J. Copeland, PAMR
Article by LTC Brent C. Bankus, Homeland Defense…
PA. Consolidated Statute Title 51 (inclusive),
Article to The State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS)
State Militias by COL Lawrence J. Copeland

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